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Tips for smart, last-minute holiday shopping

By Cassandra Webb, cwebb@ktxs.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:28:48 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 17 2013 09:44:40 AM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

There's about a week left to get your Christmas shopping done. With all the hustle and bustle and pressure to please, it's easy to go over budget and get stuck with massive bills.

To find out more about smart holiday shopping, KTXS went straight to a financial expert to get the facts.

Troy Sutton of the Sutton Financial Group offered some rules and tips you can follow to keep your shopping in line.

Shoppers in America estimate they'll spend about $700 on Christmas gifts this season.

One of the best tips to stay on budget is to only use cash. That way, once it's gone, it's gone.

Just like the "Jolly Old Soul," make a list and check it twice before hitting the stores.

"Line out who you're going to buy presents for and how much you're going to spend and then bring that with you when you're shopping," Sutton said. "Whether you're shopping on the Internet or whether you're shopping at a store, you've got a list and once you see what you're buying for whom and how much, then you can stick to your budget, whether you're feeling rushed or not," he said.

Don't linger in the stores, either. The longer you stay, the more likely you are to overspend.

And as the saying goes, sometimes the best things in life are free. 

"Not everything that we give has to cost money," Sutton said. "The only commodity in life that we never get more of and that we can't buy more of is time."

"Give somebody a gift of time," Sutton said. "A backrub, here's a coupon for a night with grandpa. That's outside the box, it didn't cost you any money, but it's something very special and gifts from the heart typically mean more than just going to the store and buying something last second."

Research shows that the Saturday before Christmas is the second biggest shopping day of the year, so set your budget and make a list today so that you avoid impulse buying. Interestingly, Sutton said this mostly applies to men.

Here are some more facts on ways you can shop smart:

1. Buy gift cards. That way, you don't spend more than planned and you don't have to worry about what to buy.

2. Save up for Christmas. It's no surprise the holiday comes every year, so consider putting away money every month to be used just for this time.

3. Watch out for hidden fees on gifts, especially on online purchases.

4. Ask for loyalty points or rewards from stores that you shop at the most.